Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Tuesday hit out at the PML-N for not showing up to a scheduled meeting between a government delegation and members of the opposition a day earlier, criticising the latter for going to a meeting chaired by "an unelected person" instead of giving preference to the parliament.
Speaking in the National Assembly today, he addressed PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and told him to "not go back on your promise".
"You said last week you would come and [cooperate in running] the parliament more smoothly [and] discussion would take place in the office of the NA speaker. We went to the NA speaker's office, PPP also came, other people from the opposition came. If [any party did not come], it was the PML-N."
On Monday, a three-member government delegation, which had met the opposition leaders on Friday, seeking better relations at least in the parliament, was scheduled to hold another round of talks with opposition parties.
However, following the PML-N parliamentary party’s meeting in the Parliament House, which was also addressed by the party’s vice president Maryam Nawaz, the opposition dropped the idea of holding the meeting.
It had been hoped that the government-opposition meeting on Monday would have lowered the political temperature, but instead, the gulf between both sides widened.
During today's NA session, Khan said the PML-N members "remember the Constitution in front of the mic but forget everything outside of parliament", adding that the party should have at least informed the delegation if they were not coming.
"We waited for you. We did not know where you were ... maybe at a place where an unelected person was chairing [a meeting] of some 100 MNAs (members of the National Assembly)," he said in an apparent reference to PML-N vice president Maryam.
"We are told vote ko izzat do (respect the vote)," he added, going on to quip that "yesterday you gave a lot of respect to the vote when you went in front of an unelected person [instead] of this sacred Parliament House."
He further said that the PML-N could hold meetings at the Parliament House but "the need of democracy and vote ko izzat do is that all meetings at the Parliament House should be chaired by an elected person".
Opposition backs out
When contacted about yesterday's meeting between the government and the opposition, PPP's Naveed Qamar had told Dawn the opposition did not go for the talks as the PML-N was busy in its parliamentary party meeting.
"We cannot meet the government without PML-N," he added.
On the other hand, Khan told Dawn that PPP members came for the meeting but not the PML-N representatives.
"It was decided in our (government-opposition) Friday’s meeting that we will meet again on Monday but the opposition did not meet its commitment," he added.
Asked who came from the PPP for the meeting on Monday, the minister said, "only Naveed Qamar".
The state minister however hinted that the government planned to invite the opposition for another round of talks in the coming days.
Meanwhile, PML-N's Maryam claimed on Monday that the government was "pleading with the opposition" for dialogue and that the latter had decided not to talk to them.
She was responding to a question about the government-opposition meeting while talking to the media ahead of the PML-N's parliamentary meeting.
Maryam said that the government would "God willing not get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance)".
She added that if she "opened up about the way [the government] was pleading with the opposition and the way the opposition had decided to not talk to them about anything, [people] would be shocked".
The PML-N vice president said that it did not matter how many times the government contacted members of the PML-N or any opposition party.
"They are now concerned about themselves. The PML-N is safe. The whole of Pakistan will apply for PML-N's ticket. Nobody will apply for their tickets so they should focus more on their own members rather than PML-N's."